Summer/Fall 2007
Fisher's Law Office

Welcome to the NEWSLETTER of Fisher’s Law Office, PA, providing you with legal information you can use in your everyday life. In this issue we discuss various family law and estate planning and other matters that are of interest to our clients. If you have any questions about any of the articles in this newsletter please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Are you paying alimony to a woman living with a new man?

Florida law has changed! Florida has long recognized a woman’s right to receive alimony. Florida judges routinely award alimony based on a list of factors contained in Florida statute 61.08.

Recently the Florida legislature changed the law to allow a family law court to terminate alimony under certain circumstances (see Florida statue 61.14 (1) (b) 1).

 For example, a court may reduce or terminate award alimony upon a written finding by the court that since the divorce, the ex-wife is in a “supportive relationship” with a new man.

 The moral of the story: if you are receiving alimony you should not allow a new man to support you. If you are paying alimony be watchful for signs of your ex spouse “shacking up” with a new man who is providing financial support for your ex-wife.

How have the courts dealt with the new law regarding alimony termination?

In the case of Zeballos vs. Zeballos, Mrs. Zeballos met a new man who was paying for her economic needs. Meanwhile, Mr. Zeballos was living on $1,149.00 a month in social security benefits and wanted to retire.

The trial court reduced Mr. Zeballos’ alimony to $350.00 a month from $1,000 a month. Mr. Zeballo’s appealed.

The appellate court then reduced the alimony down to ONE DOLLAR per month!  The court stated that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to completely terminate Mr. Zeballos alimony obligation.

Citation: Raul Zebalos vs Albap Zeballos, 4th DCA, Case No. 4D06-1552, March 14, 2007.,

How much alimony can a court award?

This question has been pondered by Florida’s court system for many years.  In the case of Lambert vs. Lambert 3rd DCA, case number 3D06-1445 the appellate court had a chance to review an award of alimony of $1,500 a month to a woman whose husband earned only $2,171.92 a month in income!

The court had concerns about the amount of alimony because is left the husband with almost no income to live on.

The court found that the alimony award of $1,500 amounted to more then 60% of the former husband’s net monthly income.

The court stated that the purpose of permanent periodic alimony is to “avoid, where possible having a former spouse pass…to the distress of having only just enough for the essentials of minimum food shelter and clothing.”

The appeals court went on to rule that at the trial the court should consider all the relevant factors set forth in Florida statue 61.08(2) in setting an award of alimony. The court then lowered the alimony to $500 per month.

Practice Note: The main reason the husband got himself into trouble in this case was that he voluntarily paid his wife $1,500 a month after separation.

Fisher’s Law Office advises clients: NEVER pay your wife more on a voluntary basis than you intend a judge to order you to pay later!

What assets are protected from creditors under Florida law?

Many people are concerned about protecting their assets from seizure by a creditor.

Florida is one of the most debtor friendly states in the union. Here is a partial list of assets that are generally off limits to general creditors (judgment holders):

1. Annuities
2. 401K plan savings
3. IRAs
4. Homestead property (your primary residence)
5. Social security benefits
6. Up to $1,000 of value of personalty, such as tools and other personal property
7. Income of the head of the household
8. Certain trusts such as irrevocable trusts and spendthrift trusts
9. Cash surrender value of life insurance policy
10. Pensions and retirement and profit sharing benefits.
11. Unemployment compensation payments prepaid college trust fund monies and medical savings accounts.
12. Up to $1,000 of interest in a single motor vehicle
13. Any ownership interest in professionally prescribed health aid for the person being sued or their children.
14. IRS refunds.
The moral to the story is if you are being sued, know your rights! Certain assets cannot be seized legally by your creditors. Many creditors will attempt to seize assets that are exempt from seizure under Florida law. If this happens to you see a competent lawyer immediately.

Are you an investor?  Are you curious about the current investment environment?

You may be interested in the theories of a British historian named Niall Ferguson. Ferguson has been named by Time magazine as one of the hundred most powerful and influential people in the world.

His investment theory is that history will repeat itself. He claims we are living in similar conditions to the year 1914, just before World War I started.

In such an environment all traditional assets such as stocks and bonds will plummet. He says that the best investment may be the “Rothschild principle” that says your money should be invested 1/3 in securities, 1/3 in real estate and 1/3 in art.

He also believes that a significant portion of assets should be invested in commodities and gold.

Lastly, he likes missile manufactures!

Watch out for HIPAA.

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, 42 U.S.C. 1320d. If you want your loved ones to be allowed to talk to your doctor or access your medical records you should sign a HIPAA waiver form. Fishers Law Office, PA offers this form to customers for a nominal fee. If you have any doubts about the right of your family to talk to your physician should you become sick or enter a hospital, see a competent attorney today.

What are some of the trends in retirement plans?

Many experts contend that as a result of the United States Federal Pension Protection act of 2006, pensions may become a thing of the past.

In place of pension plans most workers will have to rely upon their own IRAs, 401k and private savings to help pay for the cost of living in retirement.

Currently, most workers can contribute up to $15,500 a year in a 401k plan and $4,000 in an IRA (Individual Retirement Arrangement). People over age 50 can contribute additional “catch up” contributions to these plans.

Moral to the story: Meet with your financial planner and develop a plan for saving for retirement today, even if you’re young.
Have you looked at your credit report lately?

If you see an item on your credit report that looks suspicious you can dispute the item under federal law. To do so you should identify the item on your credit report that you have a dispute about and send it to the credit bureau asking them to review the matter and communicate with the creditor to see if the item is in fact valid. Many times by simply challenging the placement of an adverse item on your credit report will cause it to be eliminated from future credit reports. These and other rights are contained in the United States FCRA (Fair Credit-Reporting Act.)

What other rights are contained in the FRCA?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed by congress to promote accuracy and fairness and privacy of information in files of consumer reporting agencies. Under this act you have the following rights:
  1. You much be told if information in your file has been used against you.
  2. You have a right to know what is in your file.
  3. You have a right to ask for a credit score.
  4. You have a right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.
  5. Credit reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete or unverified information.
  6. Credit reporting agencies may not report out dated negative information.
  7. Access to your file by others is limited.
  8. You must give your consent for information to be given to employers.
  9. You may seek damages for violations of the act.

Do you think taxes are high in Florida?

   Hear this nightmare story!

In Sweden there is a special tax imposed every year on the gross value of the family Volvo, homestead and bank accounts in access of $215,000. The amount is approximately. 1.5%. For example, a family with a $25,000 car, a $12,000 boat, a $465,000 house and a $10,000 bank balance would pay a wealth tax of $4,455 per year. This is in addition to sales tax, income tax and other taxes. At the present time Sweden is considering lowering the tax.

   Florida’s wealth tax:

Until the year 2006 Florida had a similar wealth tax on stocks and bonds and other investments. Governor Bush was successful in repealing Florida’s wealth tax. Currently Florida has a very steep property tax (between 1% and 3% of the value of homestead property) but no tax on bank accounts stock or bonds.

What other countries have wealth taxes?

In the country of Spain the wealth tax is now up to 2.5% of all assets in access of $223,000. In France the wealth tax is 1.8% on all assets in access of $1 million.

Because of these taxes, many wealthy people have left Europe.

Bankruptcy update.

The United States passed a new bankruptcy law in 2005. The new bankruptcy law requires that many debtors pay back some of their debts.  Debtors are now required to fill out form “22A” to see if they can pay approximately $6,570 over five years. If so, the debtor must file a “Chapter 13” Bankruptcy and pay at least some of the debt owed.

This change in the law results in a horrible impact on people trying to keep their homes. The reason is that if you are in a chapter 13 Bankruptcy, it is very difficult to get forgiveness of only credit card debt and medical bills debts while keeping home mortgage debt.                            

 The result?  Expect to see a lot more homes sold on the court house steps and expect to see real estate prices continue to fall in Florida and elsewhere.                                 

Fishers Law Office price list and fees for 2007

   * Please note that these prices are subject to change without notice.

1. General Legal Advice- $125.00
2. Last Will and Testament- $350.00
3. General Litigation- $275 per hour
4. Contested Divorce- $275 per hour
5. Uncontested Divorce- $3,000.00 plus costs
6.Durable Family Powers of Attorney- $125.00
7. Personal Injury- % of Recovery

This is a list of the types of cases we typically handle for clients:

1. Divorce and Family Law Matters
2. Child Support Collection and Defense
3. Collection cases
4. Personal Injury
5. Mortgage Foreclosures
6. Mechanics Liens
7. Contracts
8. Wills and Probate
9. Bankruptcy
10. Landlord Tenant Cases
11. General Civil Litigation

Call us today at 1-813-949-2749 or email us at to discuss your case.